Swara opened her eyes and she was lying on her own bed. She looked around and suddenly it all hit her. She chocked, feeling sick. But Arjun was gone, the carpet on which he had bled to death was gone, the broken bottle was gone, as if she had dreamt it all.
Just then Don entered the room, his clothes changed. He had obviously had to get rid of them, having dirtied them with blood.He rushed towards her when he saw she was awake and panicking
Don:You’re so pale
he said gently and got next to her, putting his arms around her
Don:I was really worried to have left you alone for a while
she could barely speak
Don:Half an hour, I’m not sure…
Swara:Where did you…?
Don:You don’t want to know… Swara…
hetried to make her look him in the eyes
Don:You’re like a ghost, please… try to snap out of it… I’m really worried
She looked at him but she looked as if she was looking through him. Don knitted his eyebrows worriedly and brought her head to his chest and began rocking her slowly and caressing her back
Don;It wasn’t your fault, you have to know that
he said softly
Don:He was going to kill me
She didn’t say anything, just stared in space and barely blinked He looked at her again
Don:You saved my life, Swara. Andit’s not the first time
Swara:But this time it’s different…
she choked again
he soothed her and brought her back to his chest
Don:Don’t worry.Sam helped metake care of it. It’d all seem like an awful accident on his way from the hospital
Swara’s phone rang. She didn’t even flinch, that’s how anesthetized she was. Don tookit and said
Don:Listen to me, Swara. You have to act as if nothing happened, you know nothing about this ok? It won’t be that hard since he knows you’re sad over quitting your job.
He handed her the phone and she answered
Ram: Swara… Are you home? I need to come over and… talk to you about something…
Don gestured for her to say yes and she complied
Swara:Haan… ummm… kya hua?
Ram:I can’t tell you this over the phone.
Ram:I’ll be right over
she then hung up
Don:I fixed the door. Had to replace it actually. I replaced the keys on your keychain as well. Don’t worry it’s all been taken care of. Swara…..
he held her shoulders while he stood up
Don:You can do this, alright? I’ll be gone for just a little while… after this we’ll leave far,far away. Away from it all, alright? I promise
he said gently and she nodded absently
Swara:I love you
he addedand caressed her cheek as he left. She didn’t know where he went butshe didn’t even wonder. She was numbed, paralyzed.
After a while she heard the doorbell and headed towards it, like a zombie. When she opened the brand new door and Ram stepped in she didn’t react much
Ram:I’m thinking it’s a bad idea that I came already…
Ram said as he placed his hands in his pockets nervously she cleared her voice and gestured for him to sit down at her dining table
Swara:What happened, sir?
Ram: swara… I know this is coming at a really bad time… but I know he would have… mera matlab hai… ufff
this was probably the first time she had seen her boss at a loss of words
Ram:… Arjun was in a car accident… unfortunately he is dead
Swara just stared at him and hardly blinked. Ram sat up and came towards her, as she leaned over the counter
he took in a deep breath and then hugged her. She barely reciprocated. When he looked back at her she had tears in her eyes, he was teary eyed as well
Ram:You’re in shock… God, I’m really worried … but I couldn’t not tell you… I know you two were pretty close… and he… he would have liked you to attend his funeral I’m sure but… I won’t allow it. You can’t come, Swara…
Tears were just rolling down her face and she was staring at a point in space while Ram was talking to her softly
Ram:Tum jao yahan se… go to your family in New York…
he was silently crying now too
Ram:Go away and don’t come back for a long while, Swara. You need to get away.
She nodded slowly, tears still rolling down her cheeks while she stared at that same point in space
Swara:I can’t come
Swara:I just… I can’t
Ram:I know! I know… but you needed to know… I couldn’t keep this from you…
She nodded and he hugged her one last time
Ram:Take good care of yourself, you hear? And keep in touch…I’m here whenever you need me. Just a phone call away, alright?
Swara:Sure… thank you for everything sir…
was all she could say
Ram:God bless you beti…
he said in a shaky voice and cleared his throat then stepped out of the apartment Swara was just about to say goodbye to Ram when he saw a team of paramedics carrying her neighbor Kiran out her apartment on a stretcher
she asked the two men that were carrying her
Man:Do you know her family? She forgot the gas opened and died asphyxiated
Swara swallowed hard and nodded in denial. Ram turned to look at her
Ram;Did you know her?
Ram shook his head
Ram:I’ve never believed in kismet before … but there’s something not far from an evil eye here, Swara. Do as I say and leave. Go away, far away.
swara woke up and felt something strange so she stood up rapidly. Don immediately followed
Don:Relax, it’s me
he said in a soothing voice but she was panting already and pushed him away
Swara:I can’t live with myself,
she turned and looked him in the eye. In the moonlit room she could see his eyespiercing hers and she could see compassion in them. Something she hadn’t seen before. And she hated herself for loving him, now more than ever
Swara:I can’t believe I did this
she said in a high pitched voice, as she felt like suffocating
Swara:I killed him, Don!
Don:You saved me. That’s what you did. You’re an officer Swara, you very well know what self defense is!
he tried to make her see reason
Don:It’s not like you cold bloodily killed him.Like I would have done. You stopped me from doing that. You don’t know how happy I am you did. Else you would have hated me forever.
She looked at him for a long while then said
Swara:That’s just it. I think I would have loved you anyway. And that scares me a lot. You have no idea
she whispered the last sentence in a shaky voice and Don could do nothing but slowly hold her and take her into his arms caringly
Din:Swara… I know what you’re going through
Swara:… Don… you have no idea…
he said softly then added as he took in a deep breath
Don:I don’t have friends.I don’t believe in friendship. Want to know why?
She looked up at him as he held herto his chest
Don:Because I had to kill the only friend I had
Swara furrowed her brows and waited for him to continue He cleared his throat
Don:Vivek was my friend. We had become friends in the orphanage. Hewas my only friend, mostly because he taughtme a lot of what I know, and so I needed him for that. He was older and although I’ve never been inferior to him, he introduced me to the underworld and that made me his protégée in a sense. I quickly gained credibility and acclaim amongst the dealers and I could see our friendship turn a little sour as the power shifted to my side, but nevertheless I valued it. He hadn’t been just my ticket to this path I chose, but we were friends beyond business. We had known each other since I were 14 and he 17.At that age, that’s quite a difference. He taught me a lot, granted, but our friendship was based on much more. Long story short… is that I had to kill him. My boss told me that Vivek was so jealous of my success that he allied with someone else, competition basically, and that he also knew for sure that he had been assigned to kill me so that they could conquest the black market.
Swara realized she had been holding her breath in anticipation when he continued, sighing
Don:I was infuriated. He had betrayed me and he was going to kill me for his own welfare. So I cornered him and killed him without even blinking. It was the first time I had been betrayed. Kismet had betrayed me since birth but no one ever dared go against me like this. Especially the first and only friend I ever had, the only person I trusted. But I felt terrible. I felt I shouldn’t have done it. Because he was my friend,my only friend. Knowing fully well he would have killed me had I not. I eventually learned to live with it and went on doing business for that shark. I eventually found out, later on, that I had been set up. Killing Vivek was just a test they had made me go through in order to see how determined I was to do this. So I killed them all, premeditated it all and no one even suspected what was coming their way. I didn’t even think of it twice. I took over the business and so I was on my way to becoming …the king.
Don:But I was already planning on taking over for a while… but I regress. My point was that I killed my friend. It was an innate reaction. I was either going to be killed or kill him myself. Once I found out that I had wrongly killed him… I felt something very bizarre
he furrowed his brows
Don:I’d never felt like that before… empty
Swara closed her eyes tight. That was exactly what she was feeling like
Don:You killed him because he was going to kill me. There was no two way about it
he looked deep into her eyes
Swara:And even though youknowyou did the right thing you feel terrible for having killed someone that… cared for you. So what I related isn’t completely similar, but the thing is, I did whatI had to.And so did you
he then raised an eyebrow questioningly and asked carefully
Don:Do… you regret it?
Swara lowered her gaze and he asked a different question
Don:Had it been someone else in his place, would you regret having killed him to save me?
she replied immediately
Don:So you see. You only regret it because he…
he closed his eyes trying not to say something inappropriate
Don:…cared for you
Swara didn’t meet Don’s gaze, as if contemplating his words carefully
Don:And, come to think of it…that’s the very reason why he wanted to kill me.
She looked up to him. The sudden realization hit her full frontal. He was right. Arjun wanted to kill him because he loved her. She was the actual motive. And she was the only one that could save him. She wastyhe reason Arjun hated Don so much. He had been in love with her ever since they had started working together. And he had been there, witness to her every downfall. He had grown to hate Don and seek vengeance. Don pondered her changing expressions carefully and then whispered
Don:Don’t let this get to you. I promise you won’t find out one day that what you did was wrong, like I have. He was going to kill me, Swara. And you stopped him. I never knew you loved me so.
he finally added caressing her cheek She did!
And she had almost lost Don because someone was so in love with her that he was ready to kill him. She felt sorry for Arjun. That was all she felt anymore, sorrow. But she now knew in her heart that she had done the right thing.